Was Augustine a young-earth creationist?

This is a question I’ve been mulling over for awhile, and it’s been surprisingly hard to get a definite answer to, but I’m increasingly thinking the answer is “yes.” One apparently decisive piece of evidence is City of God, Book XII, Chapter 10, which is titled, “Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past.”

There’s a wrinkle here in that I’ve heard it suggested that the chapter headings in City of God were added by a later scribe/editor. I don’t know if there’s anything to that suggestion, but until I can find something definitive on that, the chapter heading isn’t conclusive for what Augustine thought about the age of the earth. Now the text of that section says:

They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.

But passed since what? The very first sentence of the chapter says:

Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of thenature and origin of the human race.

So maybe Augustine was merely claiming that the human race is less than 6000 years old. That Augustine thought that, by the way, is clear from Book XV, where Augustine makes clear that he takes the genealogies of Genesis, including the ages of various Biblical figures, literally. But maybe Augustine was leaving open the possibility of a view where the earth is old, it’s just the human race that’s young.

Wait a minute, though. The sort of modern old-earth creationism that accepts an old earth but tries to take as much of Genesis literally as possible is driven mainly by geological findings from the last two centuries. The idea of a few thousand year-old human race combined with an earth that’s millions of years would have been a really weird one for Augustine to have in his historical context. So already City of God looks like pretty strong, if not quite conclusive, evidence that Augustine was a young-earth creationist.

Now the book everyone cites to show wonderfully science-friendly Augustine was is his On the Literal Interpretation of GenesisExcept most of those people seem to not to have actually read the thing. They’ve just a few paragraphs where Augustine talks about figurative interpretation and how Christians shouldn’t embarrass themselves with their scientific ignorance.

The reality is that On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis makes clear that while Augustine thought the Bible was chock-full of figurative meanings, he also thought a lot of it was to be taken literally, and that includes the story of Adam and Eve–a story which is hard to reconcile with modern science.

The book’s implications for the age of the earth are a little less clear, but on close inspection they seem to support Augustine as a young-earther. You see, Augustine definitely took the six days of creation in Genesis 1 non-literally… but the specific way he took them non-literally was to say they describe simultaneous events. And since the six days of creation in Genesis 1 covers the creation of the heavens and the earth and all life on it, including humans, that suggests humans were created at the same time the earth as a whole was. Combine that with a literalistic reading of the rest of Genesis, and we get a young-earth view.

I’m not quite sure this is right, and I’m hoping some of you among my readers will be able to confirm or disconfirm this (my readers are awesome that way). In any case, the fact that Augustine clearly had a literalistic reading of Genesis 2 onwards–and the fact that this was important for his doctrine of original sin–should debunk the idea that Augustine shows how wonderfully science-friendly Christianity is capable of being.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I think that there is another aspect of the matter that deserves mention. In Augustine’s time, most if not all people viewed the cosmos in ways that have been shown to be incorrect as a result of subsequent scientific inquiry. It is not the same thing to assume the world is a certain way when you have no evidence to the contrary, and to insist that the world is a certain way even though you have evidence to the contrary. It is the latter that defines modern young-earth creationism, while Augustine seems to belong in the former category.

    • ACN

      Sure is unfortunate that god didn’t provide Augustine with any insight into the matter.

      But hey, why would anyone be interested in the natural history of the Earth? What’s really interesting though, weird injunctions about who you’re allowed to have sex with.

  • eric

    Now the book everyone cites to show wonderfully science-friendly Augustine was is his On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis. Except most of those people seem to not to have actually read the thing…

    To build on what James said…
    I think the science-friendliness argument relies more on Augustine’s technique than the specific content of his beliefs about the age of the earth. Specifically, he seemed okay with the idea of referring to worldly evidence to figure out what parts of scripture were allegorical or metaphorical. Modern YECs reject this notion (at least in part). So the argument for a pro-science Augustine goes: ‘he was YEC because he lived in the 400s AD. He he known then what we know know, he’d be a Theistic Evolutionist (or at least an OEC), because his approach back then was the approach that TEs and OECs take now. He would not be a YEC because rejected those christians who claimed scripture was literally right in those places where it was obviously empriically wrong. The difference between him and a OEC now is, back then there wasn’t much strong evidence for an old earth.’

    • Chris Hallquist

      Eric, are you suggesting Augustine was in fact a young-earth creationist? (I’ll comment on these other issues at some point, but it would be nice to have that settled, and maybe-settling it was my main hope with this tread.)

      • eric

        Well, this is not anywhere near close to my area of expertise, so I have to say to the factual question my answer is: I don’t know. I am probably suggesting that he was both “science friendly” and “YEC,” because in the year 400 AD these positions were not as contradictory as they are now.
        My point was that I think you are mischaracterizing the pro-science people who claim Augustine as one of their own. They are not (necessarily) saying he believed “the fact that” the earth was old. They are saying he would’ve approved of using empirical evidence to determine that fact.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Had he known then what we know now, he’d be…

      This is of course conjecture, and I generally try to avoid such arguments since hearing a YEC claim that Darwin would be one of them today.

      • eric

        A good comparison, because in both the Augustine and Darwin arguments, I fail to see what the arguer hopes to accomplish. Agustine believed x, therefore…some fallacious argument from authority?
        Okay, so let’s agree that outside of academia, there is a big “so what” factor here. Take my earlier responses in the academic spirit in which they were written.

        • Chris Hallquist

          I agree up to a point on the “so what” factor, but I’d point out that my reason for addressing this issue is that many Christians appeal to Augustine to try to show there’s no problem with evolution and Christianity. In other words, “they started it!” WRT the appeals to authority here.

          • eric

            Sure. You’re writing a book that deals in part with the people who make such arguments. It makes perfect sense for you to (a) cover it and (b) ask for help to get the background right. What doesn’t make sense are the arguers you’re covering. I.e., the folks using “Augustine supported x” to argue “x is true” (whether they be pro YEC Augustine or pro OEC Augustine).

    • Darren

      ”I think the science-friendliness argument relies more on Augustine’s technique than the specific content of his beliefs about the age of the earth… The difference between him and a OEC now is, back then there wasn’t much strong evidence for an old earth.”

      Agreed. Whether Augustine was or was not science friendly seems to be a side issue to being a YEC. So much of the evidence required to _not_ be a creationist just did not exist:

      • The growing fossil record of the 18th and 19th centuries showing that something very much like evolution was really going on;
      • Darwin’s Origin of Species providing a plausible mechanism, Natural Selection, by which evolution could occur;
      • Mendelian genetics to provide a mechanism by which natural selection could occur; and
      • Nuclear Fusion to explain Lord Kelvin’s objection that the sun simply could not be old enough to account for Darwin’s evolution.

      It is worth pointing out Augustine’s real beliefs, but in CE 400 there was nothing intellectually dishonest in being a YEC per se.

  • Ray

    For me, the fundamental issue is not whether Augustine can be lumped in with modern YECs. The question is whether the evidence leading to the modern understanding of natural and human history can also be taken as evidence against Augustine’s Christianity. From a Bayesian perspective, as long as the probability of a young human race on an Augustine’s Christian worldview is higher than on the alternative, then yes, the falsity of Young Earth Creationism is evidence against Christianity as conceived of by Augustine. This seems to be the case, given the fact that Augustine pretty clearly cites Christian Scripture as evidence for his 6000 year number.

    Of course one may argue that given Augustine’s time in history, he was in no position to make a better estimate, but this is false. People like Lucretius, who is at least as good a stand in for modern atheists as Augustine is for modern intellectual Christians, did much better with similarly little evidence — effectively arguing for both evolution by natural selection and the modern stone age — bronze age — iron age model of human prehistory. Of course, to be fair, it looks from the quote like Augustine was arguing not against Lucretius’s account or similar, but against something like the Babylonian notion of prehistory, with various ancient kings ruling for tens of thousands of years, and this prehistory is every bit as mythical as Genesis 1-11.

  • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

    I think one of the issues for devoted Catholics is that they believe the church is an infallible doctrinal authroity, and if standard doctrine was once a young earth (while now it doesn’t matter), then the church was wrong. So I’m not sure if science friendly is necessarily the motivation.

    Obviously as a young earther, I probably don’t have much room in this discussion, but I do have a couple of questions. I’m interested in the arguments, that natural selection actually does provide a plausible mechanism for evolution to occur, so far as I can tell, natural selection can only remove what is there, am I wrong? Mendelian genetics may provide a mechanism that would provide the addition of data to the genome, but I’m not sure that randomness can offer anything useful here. A few base pairs mutating would likely not make a huge difference on the level of genotype, and you’d need a hell of a lot of gene mutation for something to grow legs, this is great, except that emperically speaking, harmful or useless mutations seem to vastly outnumber useful ones. The question then is what are the chances of getting useful mutations at just the right time, and in just the right environment for natural selection to not act against them? The odds would seem to be quite low, and giving lots of time and ample opportunity would simply be an appeal to probability, and last time I checked that was a fallacy.

    The fossil record, by itself seems somewhat useless. As I understand it, we take things that occur apparently sequentially, and bear a certain level of similarity, and assume they are related based on the assumption that evolution happened. Now that’s fine, provided it isn’t an argument for evolution. The whole idea of similarity being grounds for familial relationship also beats me, I am still looking for someone (and this includes masters students in biology) who can tell my why similarity is a good argument for relationship. The only help was a paraphrase of something GG Simpson said, which results in affirming the consequent, so it’s fallacious reasoning. Being a paraphrase I could have gotten it wrong, but I’d have thought that given the “irrefutable” “beyond true” (seriously someone said that to me) nature of evolution, it would be an easy question to answer.

    I’m not dogmatic about what I believe, I can’t possibly prove a young earth or anything out of the Book of Genesis, but I would like someone to engage me on the issues I have with evolution. These are issues I had pre conversion, so I had no faith issue to lead me to them, in fact I was trying to prove that evolution was the case. I expect a bunch of ad hominum arguments about conspiracy theories and intellectual dishonesty, I’ve heard all that, I would like an honest discussion. My case is simple, I can’t prove what I believe, niether can you, if you can, then you don’t need to insult me, just prove it.

    • Havok

      Apologies if I’m feeding the troll :-)

      A few base pairs mutating would likely not make a huge difference on the level of genotype, and you’d need a hell of a lot of gene mutation for something to grow legs,

      As far as I understand it, this is true. It just so happens that we have a lot of time in which these mutations occurred, quite a reasonable set of fossils showing various intermediates, and even some current species which show similar adaptations (hand fish, for instance).

      The question then is what are the chances of getting useful mutations at just the right time, and in just the right environment for natural selection to not act against them?

      Why do mutations have to happen at the right time and in the right environment?
      Plus, just because a mutation is neutral or even has a negative effect doesn’t mean it will certainly be weeded out through natural selection – as I understand it, it’s all about probabilities, with harmful mutations being more likely to be weeded out, all other things being equal.

      The odds would seem to be quite low, and giving lots of time and ample opportunity would simply be an appeal to probability, and last time I checked that was a fallacy.

      How can appealing to probabilities be fallacious?

      As I understand it, we take things that occur apparently sequentially,

      The “apparently sequentially” thing is demonstrated by appealing to phyics and not biology (ie dating methods, which happen to be very reliable).

      and bear a certain level of similarity, and assume they are related based on the assumption that evolution happened.

      I think you’ve got this backwards.
      If evolutionary theory is correct, we would expect to find similar populations of animals changing through time. That’s a prediction. When we look back in time (ie. at fossils) we find that this is what we do find, and hence this is evidence in support of evolutionary theory.

      The whole idea of similarity being grounds for familial relationship also beats me, I am still looking for someone (and this includes masters students in biology) who can tell my why similarity is a good argument for relationship.

      Again, if evolutionary theory is an accurate model of biology, then we would expect populations of animals to produce similar, but slightly different populations of animals. We see this around us in modern animals in the wild, we see this happen with selective breeding, and what we see in the fossil record regarding this is what the theory predicts we should see.

      I can’t possibly prove a young earth or anything out of the Book of Genesis

      Why on earth not?
      In the same was as an old earth has been shown, it would be possible for a young earth to be demonstrated (the only reason it isn’t, is because the earth is, quite simply, not young).
      In the same way, if events described in genesis actually happened, that would lead us to expect certain things to be the case with the world, and we should be able to go out and see whether these things are the case (and we have, and they’re not) :-)

      My case is simple, I can’t prove what I believe, niether can you, if you can, then you don’t need to insult me, just prove it.

      A problem might be your use of the word “prove” – are you after proof in a deductive sense, or is a demonstration that something is probably true, or is a valid model of reality, or something else which doesn’t equate to 100% confidence in the result enough?

    • Reginald Selkirk

      The whole idea of similarity being grounds for familial relationship also beats me, I am still looking for someone (and this includes masters students in biology) who can tell my why similarity is a good argument for relationship.

      The idea that similarity is evidence of relationship does not require a deep knowledge of biology; it is as simple and long-standing as noting that children tend to look like their parents, and that animal husbandry works. These observations predate Darwinian natural selection.There is the phenomona of convergent evolution, with many well-known examples (e.g. flying squirrel vs. sugar glider), but in those cases examination of the details of anatomy, along with the fossil record, shows that some resemblances are deeper than others.On top of the anatomical and physiological comparisons and the fossil record, we now have DNA evidence. DNA fingerprinting for identification, and inheritance of DNA patterns, as in paternity testing, are so solidly proven and accepted that they are acknowledged in courts of law. And comparing the DNA of various species, or various individuals indepently confirms the relationships we know from the fossil record and anatomical comparisons.

      • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

        “The idea that similarity is evidence of relationship does not require a deep knowledge of biology; it is as simple and long-standing as noting that children tend to look like their parents, and that animal husbandry works.”

        Yes, things that are related look alike, therefore things that look alike are related, I think I addressed this below. This argument can really be formatted any way you like, using any kinds of similarity you like, it will always affirm the consequent. Also, the fact that it has been known for centuries, seems irrelevant, since common knowledge isn’t an argument, ask Galileo.

        The genetic argument, we have numbers, something you can work with. Accodring to our observations, things that we can observe their related, have within a 0.2% genetic difference (coding DNA, and 0.5% overall) give or take. Chimpanzees have a 1.23% genetic difference (coding and about 5% non-coding) from humans, give or take. So based on the emirical data that we have, chimpazees fall outside of the testable familial basis. Based on this, I can say that the evidence supports humans and chimps not being realted, this is falsifiable, is the conventional interpretation?

        • Reginald Selkirk

          is the conventional interpretation?

          No, and I have no idea which orifice you pulled those numbers out of. The evidence is certainly stacking up that you are a troll and not honestly uninformed. Certainly every single mistaken argument you have raised in adequately dealt with at Talk.Origins, and there are many popular books on evolution which you could read if you felt up to informing yourself better.
          Differences between human and Chimpanzee genome are bigger than thought

          During the last decade it was commonly accepted that humans and our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, only differed by 1.24 % in our DNA sequences. This discovery shows that this figure is absolutely incorrect and, what is more, may be ten times higher. (2009)

          If two genomes of 3 billion base pairs each, with a choice of four different bases at each position, were randomly calculated, the sequence identity would be quite low. Figures of even 20% identity would be well above random chance. The accepted interpretation is that sequence conservation values of the degree you mention would both be considered strong evidence of relatedness, with the higher sequence identity being closer related than the lower. There are other means of comparison: as you allude, coding regions are conserved more highly than non-coding regions. Codons for active site residues are more highly conserved than codons in the rest of the protein. Sequence conservation is tighter for some proteins than for others, but the trees of ancestry are usually pretty consistent. Besides genes, genome features such as LINEs and SINE (long and short intervening elements) are evidence for common ancestry. You could learn all this, or enough to convince you of the validity of evolution, if you were not occupied with trolling the internet.

  • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

    “A problem might be your use of the word “prove” – are you after proof in a deductive sense, or is a demonstration that something is probably true, or is a valid model of reality, or something else which doesn’t equate to 100% confidence in the result enough?”

    I figure I should answer this first. The kind of proof/evidence I expect is the same thing I’d expect from ideas in physics, we accept gravity because we can test it every day, if one day apples stop falling from trees, we may have to revise what we think about gravity. Evolution is compared to physical ideas like gravity (check talk.origins), and if it is compared, then I expect similar testability. If the fruit fly experiments, or Lenski’s e-coli are valid tests, they must be able to falsify, but they can’t, because the fall back will always be that they haven’t had long enough, so these tests show a serious confirmation bias.

    As far as deduction goes, when it’s happening, it should be logically sound. So we get to things being similar, yes we do see animals producing slightly different versions of themselves in the wild, but, unremarkably, these occur within limits, we don’t see scaled creatures forming feathers, or the unique lung of a bird in reptiles, which is exactly what you would expect if evolution didn’t happen. The fact that things that are related bear a resemblance does help anyway, consider the syllogism:

    (1)Things that are related bear resemblance,
    (2)x and y bear resemblance,
    (3)therefore they are related.

    2 affirms the consequent, so if you’re right, it’s actually an accident, it isn’t through good reasoning. When clear deductions are made, I expect them to be valid. The inductive leap has already been made to form premise 1, since we haven’t observed every instance of creatures producing offspring, and mapped (by observation) every genealogical line. Thus 3 isn’t a logical conclusion.

    If 3 is valid, I can formulate this:

    (1)Genes dictate structure,
    (2)x and y have similar structure,
    (3)therefore they will have similar genes.

    This syllogism commits the same fallacy, and has equal claim to being inductive as the previous one, only this argues that similar DNA between (say) chimps and people is exactly what you would expect if evolution wasn’t the case. I’m sure I don’t need to point out that designers create things along similar lines and once they have useful building blocks, they reuse them, thus similarity among creatures’ structures would be exactly what you would expect if each creature was created individually by a single designer. (And I can form a logical syllogism from this one, but that wouldn’t be proof).

    A further problem with similarity is it lacks falsifiability, I mean, how different would things have to be to conclusively disprove evolution?

    At this point I want to point out that I’m not saying I’ve proved evolution not the case, all I’m saying is the gusto with which people support it as irrefutable should be questioned, biologists should be devising ways to prove it wrong, not looking for ways to argue it true, this is how science works after all. It is clearly in no way comparable to things like gravity or electricity in certainty.

    As for the apparently sequentially, sorry, it is sequential, based on the laws of physics, you’d expect the lower layers to be laid down before the upper layers. As for accuracy, if it was very accurate, you would expect never to have conflicting results, and you do. Empirically speaking, rock that has actually been observed coming into existence, never measures a zero clock reading, so we have good empirical evidence that none of the radiometric clocks have ever been zeroed (except maybe carbon 14 clocks, which don’t measure millions of years, and carbon clocks have shown observed colossal failures – 10,000 year old fresh tree bark?) You would expect that lower layers would yield an older date, since break down substances, like lead, are water soluble, and thus leach (leaching is observable, ask any farmer). With leaching occurring, you’d expect higher quantities of certain substances in lower strata. Something you’d probably also expect is for strata to be less smooth and show more signs of erosion (after all, we’re talking millions of years here). In fact, as it turns out this is a common argument for the flood, you’d expect the strata from a flood situation, and you’d expect the creatures to be sorted as well, which is what we see. You’d also expect an universal land based chalk layer, which we have. This isn’t proof, which is why I said I can’t prove the book of Genesis, but you still can’t prove your idea either, and certainly not if it were put to the same rigorous scepticism that atheists put religion through (in fact, atheism would horribly fail an outsider test, but that’s another argument). I generally don’t like these arguments, but I think the article makes a good point, we can’t really prove how old the earth is. If we do have clocks, the shortest time period is a limiting factor, not the longest. And just BTW, if the earth is old, it isn’t young (yes that sounds dumb), but it being old doesn’t prove evolution, or even provide much evidence for it, unless you have a serious confirmation bias (evolution needs a long time, we have a long time, so it’s possible, it therefore happened – nobody consciously thinks like this, but if you’re using time as evidence for evolution, then you’re thinking like this).

    This reply is probably too long already, an appeal to probability isn’t appealing to good probabilities (statistical data shows that people die – with the possible exception of Enoch; Elijah; Mithra; Upnapishtim, etc) so you’ll likely die. An appeal to probability is appealing to the possibility of something improbable happening, given enough opportunity (see here) we have a huge number of improbable creatures (given the first creature was likely improbable, but that isn’t an issue for evolution), so how did we get them, millions of years and a whole world to work with. Environment does actually count, so when and where the mutations happen is important. How useful would legs be to an abyss dweller, compared to a shoreline fish? The beneficial mutations happen, but they are rare, and they need to happen in the right circumstances, which makes the odds of each evolutionary leap more improbable than the last, and based entirely on the success of the last. As an analogy, tossing a coin gives you a 1/2 chance of success, while tossing ten only gives you a 1/1024 chance of success, which means that humans are as improbable as the product of the improbability of everything in their evolutionary history, so it’s more probable they just happened by chance, than them evolving by chance. This seems to be Sanford’s argument, that we’d expect the mutations to result in entropy, given the odds against improvement.

    I’m sure there must be better arguments for evolution that I just haven’t heard, so if you know any, I’ll happily look into them. Chris, tell me to shutup whenever this gets irritating.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      If the fruit fly experiments, or Lenski’s e-coli are valid tests, they must be able to falsify, but they can’t, because the fall back will always be that they haven’t had long enough, so these tests show a serious confirmation bias.

      You don’t seem to be very knowledgable about the Lenski experiments. They can in fact replicate certain observed events, by virtue of having saved samples at regular time points. So when an event occurs, they can restore cultures as they were before the event, and see if it will happen again.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        but, unremarkably, these occur within limits, we don’t see scaled creatures forming feathers, or the unique lung of a bird in reptiles, which is exactly what you would expect if evolution didn’t happen.

        You are simply wrong on your facts. Birds have scales, therefore scaled creatures forming feathers is a daily occurence and observation.Carnivorous dinosaur with bird-like lungs discovered (2008).

      • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

        -km not sure how that applies to what I was saying about Lenski’s work, which is why I never mentioned it. Lenski has a whole lot of e-coli, which fits my things happen within limits statement. I would be interested in how long we’d have wait before we can conclusively say he’s not going to produce a completely different organism, say a sponge, before we can say we’ve proved evolution not the case. The point is, where’s the falsifiablity when you can fall back on millions of years?

        Ok, I probably screwed up there, but either you had no clue, or you’re straw manning, how many creatures have you observed producing feathers, when you’ve seen their parents, or previous generations not have this capability? Any? Have you seen it say, once? The theropod with feathers, may simply always have had feathers we certainly can’t use it as evidence, if the only explanation is the thing you’re trying to prove, this is circular reasoning. Can you provide evidence for evolution that would be valid if you started from the perspective that it didn’t happen?

        • eric

          I would be interested in how long we’d have wait before we can conclusively say he’s not going to produce a completely different organism, say a sponge, before we can say we’ve proved evolution not the case

          You are now basically asking scientists to demonstrate something the theory of evolution says won’t happen; major structural changes over (relatively) short number of generations or time. If e coli mutated into a sponge in a human lifetime that would not support our current understanding of evolution, it would refute it. So your idea does not seem to be a very serious or good test of the theory, since you are demanding something happen that would refute the theory before you will accept the theory.
          The “things happen within limits” concept has no mechanistic support. There is simply nothing in the mutation-selection cycle that would create such a limit. If you want us to believe such a limit exists, you have to give us a hypothesis about how mutational mechanisms know when they’ve reached it, how, in a biological way, an organism knows that this CTC to CAC mutation is forbidden while last generation’s CTC to CAC mutation was not.

          Until then, its perfectly reasonable to consider mutation and selection to be like compound interest; a process that has no memory of past states and works on the current state regardless of how far away it is from some “original” state.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

            The sponge was a thumbsuck, pick something that is shows a cross order change or something equally spectacular, or simply answer the question, how long would the experiment have to run for before we could say evolution was potentially falsified? Do these tests offer any real opportunity, or would evolutionists always fall back on time? Again I want to know how evolution is remotely comparable to a potentially easy to falsify idea like gravity.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Lenski has a whole lot of e-coli, which fits my things happen within limits statement.

          A “whole lot” of E. coli. He has a dozen or so flasks, maintained for > 20 years. Wikipedia sez 50,000 generations by Feb 2010. And you want to compare that to what happens on an entire planet the size of the earth over 3+ billion years. Fer realsies.

          I would be interested in how long we’d have wait before we can conclusively say he’s not going to produce a completely different organism, say a sponge, before we can say we’ve proved evolution not the case.

          Why would you expect something like a sponge (large colonies of individual cells) to develop under the conditions present in those flasks? Even if you had 3 billion years, it doesn’t seem likely to me. Do you know what selection pressure lead to the development of sponges? Neither do I. Scientists can make guesses, and to some small extent test them. And they have. Run a simple web search on “evolution of multicellularity” to see what hypotheses were proposed, and how they were tested. Some success has been achieved with organisms like yeast and Volvox.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

            My comment above expressed how the sponge isn’t that important, but let’s say something bipedal of you like, or perhaps something that wasn’t a bacteria at all, check the question I’ve been asking all along, where’s the falsifiability, your evidence isn’t near comparable to gravity, or other equally strong ideas in physics.

            My whole lot of ecoli comment, meant that’s what he had, ecoli, as opposed to salmonella, even if it bears a resemblance.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Ok, I probably screwed up there, but either you had no clue, or you’re straw manning, how many creatures have you observed producing feathers, when you’ve seen their parents, or previous generations not have this capability? Any? Have you seen it say, once? The therapod with feathers, may simply always have had feathers we certainly can’t use it as evidence, if the only explanation is the thing you’re trying to prove, this is circular reasoning. Can you provide evidence for evolution that would be valid if you started from the perspective that it didn’t happen?

          No, I have not personally witnessed a hundred million years worth of evolution in my much more limited lifetime. SFW? Do you think that is a meaningful question?
          You yourself acknowledge that a feathered therapod had parents. Evolution does not usually happen in a single instant, but over many generations. Suppose we search for therapod fossils and date them as accurately as possible using well-established geological techniques (and combining multiple independent lines of evidence is certainly not circular reasoning.). You can follow back in time, but eventually you will run out of therapods; because they just don’t go all the way back. There are some claims that other branches of dinosauria had feathers as well, but since all the non-avian dinosaurs have gone extinct, it still comes down to the fossil record.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

            So you agree, evolution is by no means comparable to experimental.physics in observability?

            I agree, theropod dinosaurs with feathers had parents, with feathers.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      I’m sure I don’t need to point out that designers create things along similar lines and once they have useful building blocks, they reuse them,…

      Why? Sure, human designers do this, in order to save effort of duplication, but there is no reason that an omniscient and omnipotent designer would reuse designs. On this point the Creationist hypothesis fails to make predictions.

      And just BTW, if the earth is old, it isn’t young (yes that sounds dumb), but it being old doesn’t prove evolution, or even provide much evidence for it, unless you have a serious confirmation bias (evolution needs a long time, we have a long time, so it’s possible, it therefore happened – nobody consciously thinks like this, but if you’re using time as evidence for evolution, then you’re thinking like this).

      But this removes one of your major objections to evolution; that there wasn’t time enough for it to happen. You yourself have noted that genetics can produce random changes for natural selection to work with (and not just base changes, but duplications of entire genes or even genomes. Read up on polyploidy). If random mutation + natural selection had literally billions of years to get from there to here, then your objection is very weak.

      • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

        “Why? Sure, human designers do this, in order to save effort of duplication, but there is no reason that an omniscient and omnipotent designer would reuse designs.”

        There’s no reason for such a being not to either, so m not sure how that statement helps you.

        “But this removes one of your major objections to evolution; that there wasn’t time enough for it to happen.”

        I don’t remember saying there wasn’t enough time, in fact, my argument was that given beneficial mutations being at a premium, and the vast majority being harmful, having meaningful leaps is improbable, no matter how much time you have.

        We could form a completely different hypothesis, that different creatures simply came into being via a process of abiogenesis, and that explains similarity, since if similar chemical processes formed one creature, we’d expect similar processes to produce other creatures. We don’t believe this because we don’t see it happening, just like I don’t see new creatures coming into existence via evolution. In fact, the process of natural selection removes creatures much faster than genetic mutations produce new ones (seriously, you don’t need a degree in biology to see this). Given this, it’s a marvel that after 3 to 4 billion years, we have anything to show of genetic diversity (or any life at all). The current state of affairs is exactly what you’d expect in a state of genetic entropy, and certainly the genetic diversity the fossil record show is not what you’d expect from a few bacteria is not what you’d expect from what we know about the rates of genetic advancement and natural selection.

        So, pay attention to what I’m saying, and not to what you think a YEC should say. I’m saying time is not relevant. Let me clear this up, I consider evolution vaguely possible (given only with an intellegent force to help it, consider talk.origins’ and Dawkins’ use of genetic algorithms as analogies, these give the process purpose). What I don’t consider it is something worth defending with the same gusto you’d support a spherical Earth, we just don’t have that level of certainty.

        • eric

          my argument was that given beneficial mutations being at a premium, and the vast majority being harmful, having meaningful leaps is improbable, no matter how much time you have.

          I do not think you understand probability as it relates to evolution. Your comment is like someone saying a lottery winner is improbable no matter how many tickets are bought. Of course (generational) time matters, as does the size of the population.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

            Does probability as it related to evolution not work like ordinary probability, are the rules different? Any response to this would be risking straw, you’ll.need to be clearer.

          • eric

            It does, you jsut seem to be getting it wrong. The probability P of of an event occurringat least once in a number of trials N is 1-(1-p)^N. N matters. For evolution, number of organisms and number of generations both increase N. The passage of time increases both. So when you say “having meaningful leaps is improbable, no matter how much time you have,” you are blatantly wrong. If you have more time, and more organisms, meaningful leaps become more probable.

          • hf

            Smidoz: perhaps it will help if I point out that evidence, in probability, means an observation more likely to happen if the theory is true than if it is false. Among other problems with your argument, you’re saying that the outcome is unlikely given evolution, but you haven’t compared this to any other theory. If you had an explanation which specifically predicted the existence of the blind spot in each of your eyes – rather than making a vague general statement of the sort that evolutionary theory could manage just as well or better – then the data would count as evidence for your theory. Otherwise you’re blowing smoke.

            We also have the bridge-hand fallacy to deal with – if you include the evidence you’re trying to explain within the theory itself, eg by making God a human-like mind, it won’t get you very far. But I don’t have the obsession patience to explain this fully.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          There’s no reason for such a being not to either, so m not sure how that statement helps you.

          Apparently you do not understand how science works. A scientist formulates hypotheses, and then tests them with experiments. If Creationism does not generate hypotheses, then it cannot be tested. So if an experimental test is performed, and it supports evolution, but says nothing about Creationism, then comparatively Creationism loses. Evolution has been passing all tests for 1.5 centuries. All hypotheses which can be tested for Creationism has it losing. Geologists were confident that there was no worldwide flood even before the time of Darwin, and were uniformly confident in old earth even before the invention of isotope dating.

          I don’t remember saying there wasn’t enough time

          You said it was improbable; and the necessary sequence of events is much more probable with a 4.5 billion year old earth than with a 10000 year old earth.

          In fact, the process of natural selection removes creatures much faster than genetic mutations produce new ones (seriously, you don’t need a degree in biology to see this).

          Ambiguous. “Creatures” could mean either organism or populations.

          and certainly the genetic diversity the fossil record show is not what you’d expect

          You’re babbling. We don’t have genetic information on any fossils older than ~ 50,000 years.

          rates of genetic advancement

          Once again, you are so ignorant that it’s difficult to know where to start. Genetic “advancement” implies improvement toward a goal. I reject that. Natural selection is always local, and what is best will depend on context. But what do we know about rates of genetic change? A typical human can be expected to have perhaps 100 – 200 new mutations compared to his parents. Rates of mutation may differ in different lineages. Rates of selection may also vary dramatically.
          .
          And yet, some similarities are deeper than others. The universality of the genetic code is evidence that all life on Earth that we know of is related. Similarity in the ribosomes tells us the same thing. These evidences go much deeper than a few amino acids in a protein being changed.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

            Yes yes yes, science tests stuff in labs, tests aren’t tests if the theory can’t fail, so where’s the falsifiability in tests like Lenski’s?

            And because people before Darwin thought an old Earth was possible, then it is? That isn’t what you’re saying, I’m sure, it’s hard to tell with you, you’ve dressmakers me and used as homonym arguments, so I’m not sure if you make good arguments.

          • eric

            I already told you exactly how Lenski’s experiment could have falsified our current understanding of evolution. But I’m feeling generous, so I’ll tell you a second way it could have done so: if none of the thousands of generations had shown any mutations at all, that would’ve caused a very serious problem for our understanding of how (micro)organisms evolve.

            But, they did mutate, so it didn’t falsify. I suspect you are confusing “now that the experiment is done, we know the results did not falsify evolution” with “the experiment could not falsify evolution.” The first is not a problem for Popperian falsifiability. It does not render an hypothesis or theory unfalsifiable. The first is what happened.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          There’s no reason for such a being not to either, so m not sure how that statement helps you.

          Given Creationism should we find camelid fossils in North America?
          Given evolution, it is likely that we should. No camelids are native to North America today, but they are in South America (llama, alpaca, etc) and in Eurasia (dromedary & bactrian camels). Given what geology and paleontology tell us about the time distribution of camelid fossils, and the drift of continents, the best explanation is that camelids were once abundant enough in North America that they were able to migrate to Eurasia when it was adjacent to North America, and to South America when N.A. bumped into it (same reason there are jaguars in South America). So, evolution predicts that yes, we should find camelid fossils somewhere in North America if we look hard enough. And so we did.
          .
          Further evidence that llamas and camels are related: they can be interbred with artificial insemination. Search on “cama”
          .
          And so evolution passes several more tests, while Creationism does nothing.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

            Wow, you got me, creationists just don’t have an answer. Really!!?

            Ok, so persist say young earthcreationism isn’t true, would that be screenshot evolution, no, because you’re commuting the fallacy of the false alternative.

          • eric

            No, YECism being false is not evidence for evolution. The fossil record, commonality of DNA, a phylogenetic tree consistent with descent with modification (even when built on multiple independent data sets), the observation that children are slightly different from their parents and not all children have the same number of offspring…and many other observables are evidence for evolution.

        • Havok

          There’s no reason for such a being not to either, so m not sure how that statement helps you.
          Actually, there is a perfectly good reason for them not to – optimality. If organisms evolved, we would expect to see co-option of existing structures to new functions. If organisms were designed by an unlimited designer, we would not expect such co-option.

          Guess what we see in nature? :-)

    • Reginald Selkirk

      An appeal to probability is appealing to the possibility of something improbable happening, given enough opportunity

      If you’re going to invoke probability, you should understand it first. Me winning the lottery is an unlikely event. Someone winning the lottery is not an unlikely event.

      • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com smidoz

        Actaully, my argument is that it is unlikely for any advanced life advanced life to form given how rigorous natural selection is and how lazy genetic mutation is in comparison, especially with regard to the low rate of beneficial mutations. My previous reply to you explains things better.

        • eric

          Are you talking about saltation events? I.e. major changes suddenly appearing all at once? Do you understand that the modern TOE does not expect such changes will happen? I am also not sure what it means to say genetic mutation is lazy. Do you mean undirected?

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Actually, my argument is that it is unlikely for any advanced life advanced life to form…

          And of course any competent evolutionary biologist would agree. Advanced life does not pop into existence from nowhere. It develops from less-advanced forms. This is why the Creationist “improbability of a 100 residue protein spontaneously assembling itself” and “tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747″ arguments are so far off-target.

    • Ray

      Smidoz

      Distinguishing between your idea that the earth is 10000 years old or less and the modern view that the earth is 4,500,000,000 years old does not require complicated dating methods — which, yes, do sometimes produce spurious dates due to contamination, imperfect zeroing etc. (although Creationists tend to exaggerate these problems, and they tend to ignore the many ways that scientists can mitigate or rule out these problems in the vast majority of cases.) How about these methods for getting a ballpark estimate of the age of the earth.

      1) Notice that all radionuclides that have a half life of 700,000,000 years (the halflife of U235) or more occur in significant abundance on earth. The remaining nuclides (the longest lived being Sm146 — halflife 100,000,000 years) occur only in trace quantities that can either be explained by known natural processes that continually produce them (explaining for example the presence of Radium in Uranium ore) or, in the case of Sm146 and Pu244, leftovers from the formation of the earth (40 halflives only reduces the quantity of a substance to one part per trillion of it’s original abundance, which can still be detectable.) There isn’t any other line you can draw that makes any sense of elemental abundances. Also, unlike processes creationists tend to use to get earlier dates (like salinity changes in oceans and chemical decay of biological material) it is almost impossible to change the rate of radioactive decay.

      Or more succinctly, on the young earth creationist view, why are uranium, thorium, and radioactive potassium common in nature, while technetium and curium are nearly nonexistent?

      2) Even with rudimentary knowledge of the speed of light (such as what was available in the 18th century) and knowledge of how bright stars are (roughly comparable to the sun.) YEC chronology does not allow light from the Andromeda galaxy to have reached us yet, let alone light from the objects in the hubble deep field.

      Are astronomers grossly wrong about what stars and galaxies are?
      Do we not understand the speed of light? — (that would be scary, it’s the basis for our definition of the meter.)
      Is only the Earth young, and not the rest of the universe?

    • Havok

      …or Lenski’s e-coli are valid tests…
      Just note that the inability to digest citrate is used to differentiate e coli from, similar other bacteria.
      So while “species” is more nebulous in bacteria than it is in other organisms, what Lenski’s experiments have shown is something like a speciation event.

  • eric

    we accept gravity because we can test it every day, if one day apples stop falling from trees, we may have to revise what we think about gravity

    Every animal we study turns out to be genetically related to others. Every fossil we find fits the model of descent with modification. If we were to find a precambrian rabbit, we would revise what we think about evolution.

    If the fruit fly experiments, or Lenski’s e-coli are valid tests, they must be able to falsify, but they can’t, because the fall back will always be that they haven’t had long enough, so these tests show a serious confirmation bias.

    Had Lenski discovered that the ability to digest citrate appeared de novo in 100% of bacteria in one generation after the food had been altered, rather than through a slow growth over thousands of generations, our current understanding of evolution would’ve had to be revised. At a minimum, we would have to rethink our theories about mutational mechanisms, because saltation is not how we currently think evolution works. Had such a saltation event been accompanied by a genetic change that read, in morse code, “This is God. I just gave these bugs the ability to digest citrate. Suck it, Darwin” then we would almost certainly infer an intelligent design (probably an angry grad student, but that is a form of ID). So yes, these tests can falsify. But the results didn’t falsify.

    Second, the conclusion, based on observed mechanisms, that a sequence of changes is expected to take a very long time is not “confirmation bias.” If I put 1 dollar in a bank account and predict that it will take ~280 years to reach $1 million at 5% annual compound interest, the fact that 280 years is too long for me to personally test my theory is not “confirmation bias.” It just follows from the model. Long required times follow from the TOE.

    The inductive leap has already been made to form premise 1, since we haven’t observed every instance of creatures producing offspring, and mapped (by observation) every genealogical line.

    It seems to me that you are demanding we genetically sequence every single living thing on the planet before we decide whether the TOE holds water or not. I think you are making a hugh error in how you understand science. At any given time and with any given set of (albeit limited) data, scientists can always assess which theory or explanation is the best fit to the data we already have. Until you come up with an alternate theory that better fits the data we have – one that makes testable predictions, etc – then scientists ar efully justified in concluding that the TOE is the best theory for the explanation of how species arose.

    A further problem with similarity is it lacks falsifiability, I mean, how different would things have to be to conclusively disprove evolution?

    The TOE predicts specific patterns of similarity. You can falsify it by showing those patterns are wrong.
    First example: precambrian rabbit (again). A similar species confirmed to be completely out of sequence would falsify our current understanding of the evolution of life on earth.
    Second: if you were to show that blind cave fish were more genetically similar to each other than they were to their local, non-cave-dwelling, sighted neighbor fish. The inference then would be that “blind cave fish” were a distinctly designed group. But since each cave seems have blind fish closely genetically related to the local sighted fish, the inference is descent with modification.
    Third pattern example: similarity/preservation of non-coding and “erroneous” parts of genomes across species. There is simply no reasonable explanation why this would occur other than descent with modification. You can make an argument from ignorance (i.e., I don’t know why the designer did it that way but He could have), but that is not an explanation.
    ***
    Your “As for the apparently…” paragraph makes it clear you are drawing some of your arguments from debunked creationist sources. I suggest you look your claims up on Talk Origins, and look at how science has dealt with them.
    ***

    As an analogy, tossing a coin gives you a 1/2 chance of success, while tossing ten only gives you a 1/1024 chance of success, which means that humans are as improbable as the product of the improbability of everything in their evolutionary history,

    Your coin analogy is deeply flawed. You’re assuming only one sequence is “success.” Evolution doesn’t. You’re assuming a single flipper and no selection process, rather than a population of flippers operating under a selection process, like evolution. You’re also forgetting that every sequence is individually highly improbable: once we perform the action of flipping a coin 10 times, we WILL, with a 100% likelihood, produce a sequence that had only a 1 in 1,024 chance of occurring. Similarly for evolution: as long as descent with modification occurrs, there is a 100% chance of a sequence of mutations occurring which, at the outset, was individually highly improbable.

    I’m sure there must be better arguments for evolution that I just haven’t heard

    There are many arguments for evolution better than creationist interpretations of how it works. As long as you reference creationist sources rather than mainstream scientific ones, you are not likely to find them.
    But I want to leave you with the point I made before about science being a comparative process; we look for best theories. The evidence supporting evolution could be shoddy, limited, full of gaps, contradicotry, etc., etc., but so long as creationists fail to come up with an alternative and mechanistic scientific theory that explains how and why earth life shows the pattern of descent with modification that it does, evolution will remain best. The existence of problems or gaps in a scientific theory does not remove it from use; only a better theory does that.

    • eric

      Ack, my apologies about the html failage at the end of my post. I think it should still be clear when I’m quoting and when I’m responding, but if not, let me know what part you need clarified and I will.

  • MNb

    I am not an expert, so I have a dumb question.

    “The book’s implications for the age of the earth ….”
    Was there anyone back then, ie during Antiquity, who thought or could have thought that the Earth was more than say 10 000 years old? Had Augustinus of Hippo even the chance to realize that there might be a conflict of science versus christianity here?
    If the answers are no your entire discussion might be irrelevant. We shouldn’t take Augustinus as an authority on the age of the earth anymore than taking Archimedes as an authority on the speed of light. Then calling Augustinus a young-earth creationist is simply meaningless.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Yeah, there were, that much is clear from City of God. Though they were basing their claims on some rather dubious Egyptian, etc. records rather than anything like modern geological science. Also, a lot of people apparently just assumed the Earth had existed literally forever.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        And Hindus had a different concept of time; a cycle rather than a defined start and end; and that cycle concept coupled to a very old age.

  • MNb

    @Smidox: “how many creatures have you observed ….?”
    How many gods creating universes have you observed? None? Then you’re asking an unfair question.
    Like others implied, if you want to understand the Evolution Theory you have to let go any teleological notion.

    “advanced life”
    Define advanced. Something like complex? Quite probable, given the available time.

    “we accept gravity because we can test it every day, if one day apples stop falling from trees, we may have to revise what we think about gravity”
    We accept evolution because we can test it every day; if one day a dog gives birth to a sheep while being the biological parent or if one day we find a cat fossil 80 million years old we sure have to revise what we think about evolution.

  • MNb

    @Smidox: one final point. Even if you manage to refute Evolution Theory you still haven’t driven you main point home. It wouldn’t follow that creationism is correct; it only follows we would have to develop a better scientific theory.
    Two well known defects of creationism are:
    1) it implies teleology, something science has gotten rid off about 200 years ago;
    2) google Unintelligent Design. My favourite example at the moment is the rabbit which has to consume its droppings because of a flaw in its digestive system, but there are many more.
    Though I can’t entirely rule out the option that your creator is incompetent, of course.

  • http://carnedes.blogpost.com LordGriggsSkepticGriggsyCarneadesHume

    Yes , two hundred years ago, but theistic evolutionists, yes, even Ayala and Miller, whilst affirming that in science , ridding knowledge of design through the front door, they admit it back through the back door! Theistic evolution is just an oxy-moronic obfuscation to knowledge.
    Lamberth’s teleonomic argument is that since science finds no directed outcomes, then to infer them contradicts rather than complements science. Carneades atelic argument notes that theists beg the question of those directed outcomes. Whilst methodological naturalism and ontological naturalism are distinct, science- m.n.- uses mechanism -teleonomy as Ernst Mayr notes, so, yes, science finds no God. So, people can still insist on noting the difference betwixt the one and the other naturalism to avoid stating that science is methodological naturalism, science itself is mechanistic! This is not just a philosophical point but really the scientific one!
    I ,a couple of hours ago in responding to something similar in another blog, found it clever that I figured this out, since the distinction betwixt m.n. and o,n. is in the end irrelevant- an ignoratio elenchi!
    So, accommodationists can still make that distinction, but wow, it flutters but never really fructifies as important in the final analysis. It might satisfy some creationists to become theistic evolutionists, but again, in the end, they would overlook the scientific fact that Nature works mechanically no matter how accommodationists overlook this important point!
    Google the Lamberth’s teleonomic argument to see a fuller explanation. And Google my arguments from pareidolia, and reduced theism . Or just Google Lamberth’s naturalist arguments against God. The teleonomic and the pareidolia ones are science-based.
    And Thales and Strato eons ago decried the use of teleology in science, and others plead for mechanism. Aristotle, unfortunately overcame in use those with his teleological view but they are ever right!
    Ernst Mayr’s ” What Evolution Is,’ George Gaylord Simpson’s ” The Life of the Past,” Paul B.Weisz’ ” The Science of Biology” and Jerry Coyne’s essay ” Seeing and Believing” and Rossow’s essay on the yin and yang of Kenenth Miller at Talk Reason delve into why mechanism-teleonomy-causalism- is the way!
    Mayr uses somewhere the term teleonomy. Weisz use the term causalism. I revised the Carneades one in that he faulted Chysippus for begging the question in his analogy of builder and building with the Cosmos and God.
    Plus, without having intent, then God cannot be Himself as Creator and so forth, lacking then referents, He is factually meaningless whilst semantically meaningful, so not existing, and with contradictory,incoherent attributes, again He cannot exist! My form of ignosticism/ igtheism/ theological non-cognitivism finds that contrary to Alfred Jules Ayer and Theodore Drange that ignosticism strikes both atheism and theism, mine finding no referents [ Not only that one argument, but each naturalistic argument knocking of a referent does the same cumultatively.], then pervades naturalistic [ atheistic] arguments, and so, the and it affirm each other.

    http:// carnedes.blogspot.com
    http://thestratonician.blogspot.com
    http://lambjume.blogspot.com I recombine and permute and revise my arguments and others.
    I have even more at blogspot.com as well as many @ wordpress.com, posterous.com and tumblr.com with the same or similar names. Also Googling Skeptic Griggsy and any monikers found with it, will also produce those arguments more fully.

  • http://carnedes.blogpost.com LordGriggsSkepticGriggsyCarneadesHume

    Sorry about the Stratonician. I have the blog Strato Updated there. And I do have there also the the Carneades one. I’ll try to find out what happened.
    Anyway the last one is the Hume one. Blogspot wouldn’t allow me to use the right spelling for Carneades and Hume in the address.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    Summing up Smidoz’s reasons for thinking it acceptable to be a YEC:
    His demonstrated ignorance of mathematics, particularly probability.
    His demonstrated ignorance of biology.
    His implied ignorance of geology, physics and chemistry.

  • Jen

    Smidoz,

    If you’re serious about learning about what evolutionists really believe and why, I’d suggest checking out these three videos for starters:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdddbYILel0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W96AJ0ChboU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As1HlmYeh7Q

    Also, you might find it helpful to check out http://www.talkorigins.org, especially their pretty detailed list with answers to common creationist objections to evolution (some of which you’ve brought up), which you can read here:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

    Your thoughts on the videos and on the site?

    Also, last but not least, I recommend checking out Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True for a primer on evolution written by an evolutionary biologist. The only people who support YEC are religious people. I mean no offense, but scientifically, it’s not seen as tenable. If YEC were true, what would it predict that we’d see geologically, biologically, and genetically?

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